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Common Points in the Policy of Italy and Central Europe

Abstract

Recent news often compares current Italian policy to that of Central Europe – especially Hungary. The latest elections brought victory to right-wing populism in Italy and the Visegrad countries – especially in Hungary and Poland – with the key points of their discourse concentrated on similar topics such as Euroscepticism, migration and security, which are tightly connected to the refugee question. Right-wing theories have historical traditions both in Italy (Fascism) and Central Europe (rightist and extreme rightist parties) that I think important to summarise, as some of their elements can also be found in the political thinking of nowadays. The paper presents the main parties of Italy and those of the Visegrad countries and compares their common elements to see whether Italy can politically belong to Central Europe.

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Cultural Trauma – The Case of the Winner

Abstract

My study is an analysis of the emergence of the “Golden Dream” narrative in Romania, right after World War I. Along the way, I make some theoretical contributions to cultural trauma studies. ‘Winner’ and ‘loser’ are terms used to define fixed situations. Usually, only the loser (the victim, defeated) might suffer a trauma, while the occurrence of trauma is denied for the winner (the perpetrator, victor). We shall dig a little deeper and wider, demonstrating that Romania, an overall winner of WWI, will face, right after victory, a ‘cultural shock’ which has to be repressed, as part of the “Golden Dream” narrative. Through a detailed, economic, social and political analysis, I’ll be trying to argue that a shattering trauma has engendered in Romanian society; yet another addition to a whole ‘traumatic history’. The ensuing orthodox ethnonationalism takes its root from this trauma. From time-to-time, we will take a comparative glance at the trauma of the loser, particularly when we will be discussing the omissions of an otherwise seamless narrative.

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Development or reflections of the nonprofit sector in Central and Eastern Europe and Hungary

Abstract

The CEE countries are celebrating the 15th anniversary of joining the European Union. The ‘feast’ is also of note because the EP elections are just in front of us. Instead of weighing up the expected results, we can surmise that the resolution of Central European voters is now weaker in terms of belonging to the European community and their trust in democratic institutions is also considerably lower than it was in the transition era. But what happened? The answer is too complex to be summarised in just one study; the examination of this issue would require a complex analysis of facts from economic transformation to transitions in social and economic subsystems. Of these elements, I wish to introduce the system-level transformation and the current state of civil society.

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Hungary’s Pragmatic Foreign Policy in a Post-American World

Abstract

This paper seeks to provide an overview of Hungary’s foreign policy priorities since the change of the political system of 1989–90. It intends to critically analyse the rise of pragmatism, in particular, in the new policy chapters of the ‘Turn towards the East’ and the ‘Opening to the South’, while it also looks at the international system itself with its recent developments and how Hungary has behaved in relation to them. Focal attention will be given to certain regions of the world, together with some global issues such as China, Turkey, Russia and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the ongoing refugee crisis and climate change.

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Political Sources of Hungarian Soft Power

Abstract

In the past decade, Joseph Nye’s concept of soft power has become a popular tool for analysing and explaining foreign policy directions of countries that lack significant capacities of hard power. Beyond other states, Hungary has also received special attention in this regard as several surveys and indexes have measured a high increase in its soft power efficiency. This paper attempts to analyse how Hungarian domestic and external political approaches supported this assumed progress and seeks to understand how political values, governance practices and foreign policy strategies have influenced the effectiveness of Hungarian soft power. The paper will argue that the recent Hungarian political directions have produced controversial outcomes and the populist orientation has increased and, at the same time, constrained the effectiveness of soft power. It has increased because populist rhetoric has created a much larger international fame and agenda-setting capacity than would have been expected from a small Central European country. However, it has also been constrained because controversial domestic and conflicting foreign policies were rejected by the European moderate majority. As a result, today, Hungarian external policies suffer from a serious deficit of legitimacy and moral authority which significantly limit the presumed progress of soft power.

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The Populist phenomena and the reasons for their success in Hungary

Abstract

After the parliamentary elections in 2014, the weakened legitimacy of the Hungarian government could be re-established through activism in migration issues. Fidesz-KDNP that won elections twice already highlighted migration as the main theme of governance from 2014 to 2018, suppressing every other topic on the political agenda. The position that was established for purposes of the Hungarian domestic situation and politics initially faced intense rejections all over Europe, but then garnered some supporters as well, mostly in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe, and to a smaller extent among the right-wing and populist parties of Western Europe. The anti-refugee and populist approach caused significant success in the communication field to the subscribing parties and governments, and also legitimised Hungarian government’s efforts that could mean it met the majority of the Hungarian society’s expectations. The most essential question is that how can political science reshape its terms and thoughts on populism to understand this phenomenon better, moreover what are the reasons of populism and why is the populist propaganda such successful in Hungary and Eastern Europe.

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The Uncertain Revival of Central Europe – Central European Thought from a Hungarian Perspective

Abstract

The recent crisis that, the European Union has had to face certainly raises questions about the current state of Europe. The question about the legacy of regional integration; the debate between the standpoints about the vision on the European Union with the necessity of strong nations or on the contrary, the opportunity of deepening the cohesion that could lead to the united states of europe; in other words, political integration, the deepest step of regional integration. the paper deals with the problem of the concept on central europe from the standpoint of various concepts; the question of mapping, the meaning of borders, the ways of identification appear in this paper. the difference between the concept of mittel europe and central europe also appear in the paper. analysing the question of central europe it is also inevitable to examine the meaning of central europe from historical context. after the end of the cold war and as the consequence of the euro-atlantic integration, the concept of central europe changed a bit. while during the bipolar system this phenomenon served as a differentiation of the groups of countries being located in the soviet sphere of interest. being central european meant something that was much more engaged with progressive approach in democratization, transformation rather than a sign of nostalgia towards the historical past.

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Authoritarian Liberalism in Contemporary Europe: methodological approaches and conceptual models

Abstract

The author conducts a comparative analysis of authoritarian liberalism’s concepts in contemporary political theory. The paper deals with the main directions of interpretation of authoritarian liberalism in the framework of methodological approaches and conceptual models of neoliberalism, ordoliberalism, political liberalism, J.-W. Mueller’s ‘restrained democracy’, J. Habermas’ ‘legitimation crisis’, C. Crouch’s ‘post-democracy’, C. Macpherson’s ‘participatory democracy’, M. Wilkinson’s ‘dedemocratisation and delegalisation’, W. Streeck’s ‘democratic capitalism crisis’ and G. Majone’s ‘crypto-federalism’. The basic analytical concept is the idea of authoritarian economic liberalism, first proposed by H. Heller and K. Polanyi. This paper will sub-stantiate that in crisis and transformational periods the actualisation of authoritarian liberalism corresponds to the fundamental tension between market capitalism and representative democracy. The author conceptualises authoritarian liberalism as the practice of dedemocratisation and restrained democracy, which results in the regionalisation of radical protest against the supranational regime of political integration in Europe. Latent political authoritarianism strengthens economic liberalism, which, in turn, reinforces the further EU’s ‘liberal authoritarian transformation’. Authoritarian liberalism restricts traditional forms of representative democracy, contributing to the reanimation of populism and political radicalism. The authoritarian restriction of representative democracy can lead not only to the strengthening of market capitalism, but also to the revival of reactionary forms of ‘new nationalism’ and illiberalism. Today, the EU’s regime is transformed from a nominally rule-based structure supported by market discipline into a ‘discretionary order’ reinforced by bureaucratic power. The EU’s transnational solidarity can become a democratically legitimate tool for a de-escalation of tensions between market capitalism and representative democracy.

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The Difficult Look Back: Slovenian Democratic Path after European Union Accession

Abstract

In the third wave of democratic changes in the early 1990s when the Central and Eastern European (CEE) political landscape changed radically and the democratisation processes started in the eastern part of the continent, Slovenia was one of the most prominent countries with the best prospects for rapid democratic growth. Slovenia somewhat luckily escaped the Yugoslav civil wars and towards the end of the 20th century was already on the path towards a stable and consolidated democracy with the most successful economy in the entire CEE area. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Slovenia had a simple and straight-forward political goals, i.e. to join the European union as soon as possible, thus consolidating its place among the most developed countries within the region. After some setbacks, this goal was accomplished in (so far) the biggest enlargement to the Union in May 2004. But what happened after Slovenia managed to successfully achieve its pair of major political goals? In this chapter, we search for an answer to this question and find out why Slovenian voters are increasingly distrustful not only of political institutions, but why so-called new political faces and instant political parties are so successful and why Slovenian democracy has lost a leading place among consolidated democracies in CEE.

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The neoliberal hybrid in East-Central Europe. The ‘treason of intellectuals’ and its current re-assessment

Abstract

The Europeanised, progressive intelligentsia in East-Central Europe (ECE) made a fundamental mistake in the nineties that amounts in some ways to the ‘treason of intellectuals’ and the basic reassessment of these naïve illusions has only begun nowadays. Motivated by the radical change in the ‘miraculous year’ (1989) the progressive intellectuals uncritically accepted and supported the Europeanisation in that particular form as it entered into the chaotic days of the early nineties, since they naively thought that its negative features would automatically disappear. In good faith, they created an apology for the established neoliberal hybrid and they sincerely defended this perverse Europeanisation against the increasing attacks of the traditionalistnativist narrative. With this action they have been unwillingly drifting close to the other side by offering some ideological protection for the ‘really existing’ neoliberal hybrid instead of criticising this deviation from genuine democratisation in order to facilitate its historical correction. However, due to the emergence of the neoliberal hybrid, the ‘external’ integration by the EU has resulted in the ‘internal’ disintegration inside the ECE member states. There has been a deep polarisation in the domestic societies and after thirty years the majority of populations in the ECE countries feel like losers, and they have indeed become losers. This controversial situation needs an urgent reconsideration, which is underway both in the EU and in the ECE as a self-criticism of the progressive intelligentsia. Thus, this paper concentrates on the reconsideration of the main conceptual issues of Europeanisation and Democratisation in ECE.1

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